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British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor returns to Melbourne later this month for a performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto under the baton of Xian Zhang. The young virtuoso has had reviewers around the world talking, with the New York Times referring to his playing as having “crisp articulation, beautiful shadings, keen attention to inner voices and tremendous imagination!”

We’re thrilled to be welcoming you back to Melbourne! How familiar are you with the Schumann Piano Concerto that you’ll be performing with us?
I’ve been playing the piece since I was sixteen, and was aware of it as a listener for much longer, so I’d say I’m very familiar with it!

What is it about the piece that you’re drawn to?
It’s a unique and fascinating work. Schumann tried to sell the first movement to publishers as a one-movement ‘Fantasy’. It was because of their refusal that he turned the work into a full piano concerto. Given his original intentions for it to be a standalone piece, the first movement alone is a rich and wonderful journey. The second movement takes on a chamber-music-like intimacy from its opening bars and throughout exudes tenderness and warmth, and then the last movement is a joyous dance!

Did you know that you were always destined for a life of music?
I knew from an early age after having had some of my first performing experiences. This destiny was quickly reinforced by my involvement in the BBC Young Musician competition. I reached the final, which gave me the opportunity to play with a professional orchestra for the first time.

If you could collaborate with any composer, whether they be alive or dead, who would it be?
Beethoven! However, I imagine that it would be fairly intimidating…

What do you love to do when you’re not on stage?
I love to cook, and would say that getting to try a variety of food is definitely one of the best things about the itinerant lifestyle of a musician. Obviously, off the stage too there is a lot of time spent immersed in music!

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